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Georgia Tech #ProJackets Basketball Report

THE FLATS – How Josh Okogie is carving out a role as a starter with the Suns … Jose Alvarado wants to be in the conversation for the NBA Sixth Man Award … Can Thaddeus Young create a role for himself in Toronto? … Jordan Usher lighting it up in Australia … Michael Devoe signs with Utah Jazz … more in this week’s #ProJackets Report.

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HOW OKOGIE IS CARVING OUT ROLE WITH STAR-CENTRIC SUNS

The Phoenix Suns are a constellation of stars, three All-NBA scorers who plan to light up the desert and jumbotrons across the league this winter. There are many buckets to get and pull-ups to launch. And so Phoenix plucked Jusuf Nurkić from the three-team web that pinned Damian Lillard in Milwaukee, viewing Portland’s former center as a connective passer within its three-headed storm of Kevin DurantDevin Booker and Bradley Beal all sharing the perimeter. If 2023-24 serves as a season-long audition for head coach Frank Vogel’s fifth man, then Josh Okogie has the inside track.

That was the lineup Vogel started for Phoenix’s preseason opener against Detroit on Sunday. The Suns erupted for 46 points and a 17-point advantage after the first quarter. Okogie was Okogie: 6-foot-4 and 215 pounds, smothering Cade Cunningham and poking the ball away for a runout jam. On the replay you could spot Vogel howling in approval as the sixth-year swingman rocketed downcourt. Okogie, 25, would later scoop a loose dribble from Durant and bounce Nurkić an easy dime through the lane.

“Every time you have a team there’s a couple holes that need to be plugged, and I feel like I try to fill in those gaps,” Okogie told Yahoo Sports.

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ALVARADO’S BOLD GOALS FOR 2023-24 REVEALED

The New Orleans Pelicans have a few questions to answer as the 2023-24 NBA season draws closer. The number one question though surrounding the Pelicans is health. They just haven’t been able to stay healthy in recent seasons. One player though that has been relatively healthy for the Pelicans is Jose Alvarado. Alvarado played in 54 games during his rookie season in 2021-22 and he appeared in 61 games last season. He is currently sidelined for two to three weeks due to an ankle injury, but he might be ready for the start of the regular season. In any case, Jose Alvarado revealed his lofty goals for the 2023-24 season to SiruisXM NBA Radio that includes being in the running for Sixth Man of the Year.

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JOSH OKOGIE CONTINUES TO BE AN ABSOLUTE DELIGHT

Coming off his best season of basketball yet, Josh Okogie is now the third-longest tenured Sun behind Devin Booker and Ish Wainright. He only signed 15 months ago, but he says some of the newcomers are “looking at me like a vet, but I’m still trying to learn my street names.”

You and me both, Josh. Downtown Phoenix can be so confusing.

Right before he took the podium, Chimezie Metu, who has played with Okogie for Team Nigeria in past FIBA events, was talking about the depth of the team, calling out some guys by name, including Okogie. Right on cue, Okogie pokes his head out from behind the backdrop with the biggest grin.

Good vibes and team chemistry already being built.

There was also the funny anecdote Okogie told about meeting head coach Frank Vogel at All-Star Weekend in 2020 where the two found themselves in an elevator. Okogie says Vogel turned to him and said, “I like your game. You’re tough.” Suns fans know all too well already.

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CAN THAD YOUNG CARVE OUT A ROLE WITH RAPTORS?

The Toronto Raptors traded a first-round pick (which later became Malaki Branham) in order to acquire veteran forward Thad Young from the San Antonio Spurs. Young not only fit in with Toronto’s positionless ethos, but he added veteran moxie to what was still a very young team.

Young’s Raptors tenure has been a roller coaster, as his roles and expectations have changed wildly. Young looked like a tremendous addition early in his Raptors career, as he played big minutes in the playoffs and fit Nick Nurse’s system like a glove on both ends.

Things took a turn for the worse last season, as Young started to show signs of aging. Young went from an occasional starter as a small-ball center to someone who was out of the rotation entirely. Bizarrely, the Raptors decided to bring him back on an $8 million salary rather than cut him loose.

The Raptors had to have brought him back with the expectation that he would play some role, however truly limited it may be. Will Young end up revitalizing his career, or will the Raptors have to watch as someone who could be playing on a contender waste away in Toronto?

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USHER IMPRESSES AT BOTH ENDS IN PERTH DEBUT

THE Perth Wildcats started the 2023/24 National Basketball League (NBL) season in fine fashion, claiming a win over the Tasmania JackJumpers thanks to an explosive scoring performance from Jordan Usher.

The two sides locked horns at RAC Arena for the late game on Friday night, in one of the most anticipated matchups of the opening round. Both teams are expected to be genuine contenders this season, after some solid off-season moves and strong performances in the blitz. Luckily for fans and pundits alike, the game lived up to the hype in a thoroughly entertaining, high-quality affair.

The JackJumpers silenced the crowd early, going on a 12-0 run to start the game after Perth could not find the bottom of the net and struggled against Tasmania’s defensive rotation. However, the Wildcats are simply too strong of a team to keep down for that long, eventually getting their offensive groove going and storming home to a six-point win in front of a booming home crowd.

There is no doubt that the Wildcats would not have got the job done if not for the performance of Usher, who was an undeniable presence on the offensive end.

 

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MICHAEL DEVOE SIGNS WITH UTAH JAZZ

The Utah Jazz have signed guard Michael Devoe and forward Keshawn Justice (key-shawn). In a related move, the team has waived guard/forward Taevion Kinsey and center Nick Ongenda. Per team policy, terms of the deals were not released.

Devoe (6-4, 183, Georgia Tech) spent the 2022-23 season with the Ontario Clippers of the NBA G League, where he appeared in 29 games (12 starts), owning averages of 6.7 points, 3.1 rebounds, and 1.9 assists in 20.9 minutes per game. A four-year collegiate player at Georgia Tech (2018-22), the Orlando, Fla., native played in 117 career games (106 starts) with averages of 14.6 points, 4.1 boards, 3.1 assists, and 1.3 steals in 34.1 minutes per game. Following the 2021-22 season, he was named to the All-ACC Third Team.

 

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Eurobasket #ProJackets Report

Courtesy of Eurobasket LLC

Jordan Usher (6’7”-SF-1998, played in 2019-22, plays pro in Australia) led Perth Wildcats to a victory over the closely-ranked JackJumpers (1-1) 101-95 in the Australian NBL last Friday. He was MVP of the game. Usher recorded 35 points (!!!) in 38 minutes; quite an impressive performance considering it’s only his second season in pro basketball. Perth Wildcats (2-1) are placed third in the NBL. But this is still an early stage of the season and everything may happen. Usher has individually a very good year with high stats. He averages 21.0ppg and 3.7rpg in three games he played so far.

Ja’von Franklin (6’7”-F, played in 2023-23, plays in Serbia) was the main contributor in a Borac CA’s victory against the ninth-ranked Cibona (0-1) 86-79 in the ABA League on Sunday night. He was MVP of the game. Franklin recorded a double-double by scoring 17 points and getting 10 rebounds; not bad, considering it’s only his first season in pro basketball. KK Borac Cacak (2-0) is placed first in the ABA League. The Regular Season already ended in the ABA League. Franklin has relatively good stats this season 13.0ppg, 9.5rpg and 1.5spg.

Ben Lammers (6’10”-C-1995, played in 2014-18, currently in Spain), who plays in the Spanish Liga Endesa could not help Gran Canaria (1-2) in their last game. Despite Lammers’ good performance Gran Canaria lost 75-89 on the road to the lower-ranked (#7) Joventut. He was the second best scorer with 14 points (went 5 for 5 at the free throw line) in 23 minutes. But the season just started, so everything may happen. This year Lammers averages 9.7ppg, 3.3rpg and 1.3apg in three games.

Adam Smith (6’1”-PG-1992, played in 2015-16, plays pro in Spain) was the major contributor in Bilbao’s victory against the ninth-ranked Obradoiro (1-1) 78-77 in the Spanish Liga Endesa last Wednesday. Smith recorded 13 points and added 3 passes. Surne Bilbao Basket (1-0) is placed second in the Liga Endesa. But the season is still in its first stage and everything can happen. Smith has relatively good stats this season 13.0ppg, 1.3rpg and 4.3apg.

Josh Heath (6’1”-PG-1994, played in 2014-17, plays in Belgium) contributed to a Spirou Basket Charleroi’s victory against the tenth-ranked Okapi Aalst (0-3) 87-80 in the BNXT League on Wednesday night. Heath scored 8 points, had 4 rebounds and dished 4 assists in 30 minutes. Spirou Basket Charleroi (3-0) is placed first in the BNXT League. So far his team won all three games in the Regular Season. But the season is still in its first stage and everything can happen. This year Heath averages 7.3ppg, 3.3rpg, 5.0apg and 1.3spg in three games.

Marcus Georges-Hunt (6’5”-F-1994, played in 2012-16, currently in Kuwait) helped his Kuwaiti team Kuwait win their game against the closely-ranked Al-Bureij crushing them 107-84 in the Arab Club Championships in Thursday night’s game. Georges-Hunt recorded a double-double by scoring 19 points and making 11 passes. Georges-Hunt has relatively good stats this season 12.3ppg, 4.0rpg and 5.0apg. He is a naturalized Virgin Islander.

Abdoulaye Gueye (6’9”-C-1994, played in 2014-15, plays pro in Turkey) helped Sigortam.net win their game against the league outsider Kocaeli 70-63 in the Turkish TBL (second division) last Saturday. He had a double-double by scoring 11 points and getting 13 rebounds. Gueye also added and 3 steals in 31 minutes. Gueye has relatively good stats this year 14.0ppg, 7.3rpg and 2.3apg in four games.

Experienced Gani Lawal (6’9”-F/C-1988, played in 2007-10, plays in Mexico) was not able to help Plateros de Fresnillo (7-9) in their last game on Wednesday. Despite his good performance the fifth-placed Plateros de Fresnillo was crushed100-79 in Aguascalientes by the higher-ranked Panteras (#3) in the West group. Lawal scored 13 points and grabbed 8 rebounds. Lawal has relatively good stats this season 11.4ppg and 8.2rpg. He is a naturalized Nigerian.

Other former Georgia Tech players, who play in pro basketball:

  • Thaddeus Young (6’8”-F-1988, played in 2006-07) plays for Toronto Raptors in the NBA
  • Jose Alvarado (6’0”-PG-1998, played in 2017-16) plays for New Orleans Pelicans in the NBA
  • Josh Okogie (6’4”-G-1998, played in 2016-18) plays for Phoenix Suns in the NBA
  • Avi Schafer (6’9”-C-1998, played in 2017-19) plays for SeaHorses Mikawa in Japanese B1 League
  • Khalid Moore (6’7”-F-2000, played in 2018-22) signed for Lavrio in Greek GBL
  • Charles Mitchell (6’8”-F/C-1993, played in 2014-16) signed for Obera in Argentinian La Liga
  • Michael Devoe (6’5”-G-1999, played in 2018-22) signed with Utah Jazz in the NBA
  • Moses Wright (6’9”-F-1998, played in 2017-21) played for Toronto Raptors in the NBA Summer League
  • Robert Sampson (6’8”-F-1992, played in 2013-13) plays for Nhatrang Dolphins in Vietnamese VBA

The list above includes only some of alumni playing currently in pro basketball. Check complete list of Georgia Tech basketball alumni.

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